19 February 2009

Vocabulary in the News: Man charged over Australian bush fires named


header_cnn_com_logo_intA court has lifted a ban on identifying a man charged with one of a number of deadly wildfires that scorched southwestern Australia this month.

The man, 39-year-old Brendan Sokaluk, did not appear in Monday's hearing in Melbourne Magistrates' Court, the Australian Associated Press reported. An order banning the publishing of Sokaluk's street address or his image remains in place.

Public passions are running high in the aftermath of the fires that have killed scores of people. One T-shirt says, "The bastards who lit Victoria's fires should: Burn in hell."

Sokaluk is suspected of lighting a fire on February 7. He was charged with arson causing death, intentionally or recklessly lighting a bush fire, and possessing child pornography, Victoria state police said last week. The fire Sokaluk is accused of setting killed at least 21 people in Gippsland.

The death toll in a string of fires across Victoria climbed to 189 on Monday, police reported. The number of fires burning had dropped to six, from about a peak of about three dozen, the Country Fire Authority said.

Meanwhile, more than 150 detectives were working on the arson investigation, authorities said. The fires have destroyed more than 1,800 homes and displaced about 7,000 people.

to charge someone with

  to assert that someone is guilty of a particular crime (official crime mentioned – e.g. arson, first degree murder, armed robbery, assault, etc...)
EX. The police are charging him with armed robbery.

to charge someone over

  to assert that an activity may be the result of a crime committed (activity or event where a possible crime took place – death of husband, protest event, car accident, etc..)
EX. Authorities may charge Phelps over his bong use.

to lift a ban

  to put an end to something that has been forbidden or restricted
EX. Turkey’s prime minister’s attempt to lift the ban on headscarves was anti-secular.

to scorch

  to burn and destroy
EX. The lava flow from Mount St. Helens completely scorched the forests around the mountain.

a hearing

  a) a court appearance before a judge other than a formal trial; b) a formal meeting of an investigative body or legislative committee where evidence or testimony are given
EX. State Real Estate Commissions hold hearings to investigate complaints filed against licensed salespersons.

passions are running high

  An expression to mean that people are experiencing strong emotions.
EX. Due to the sensitive nature of the incident, passions are running high on both sides of the controversy.

the aftermath (uncount noun)

  the consequences or state of affairs resulting from something
EX. In the Maldives, there are severe problems in the aftermath of the tsunami.

scores (in the plural)

  large numbers
EX. Scores of people attended the Obama presidential campaign rallies.

to light (irregular verblit, lit)

  to set on fire or ignite
EX. To create a romantic mood at dinner, he lit the candles on the table.

suspected of

  to be thought guilty without proof
EX. Because of her connection to the victim, she was suspected of murdering him.

arson (uncount noun)

  the crime of purposely setting fire to a building or property
EX. Vehicle arson is unfortunately an annual event in Strasbourg on New Year’s Eve.

recklessly (adv.)

  not regarding the circumstances, irresponsibly, dangerously
EX. His driving at 160 kilometers an hour on the motorway in the rain recklessly endangered his life and of those around him.

a bush fire or a bushfire

  a fire that occurs in the bush (collective term for the countryside in Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia)
EX. In south east Australia, bushfires tend to be most common and most severe during summer and autumn.

accused of

  to have legal action brought against
EX. He was accused of murdering his ex-wife because his fingerprints were found at the crime scene.

death toll

  the number of dead
EX. The death toll in Africa due to AIDS may hit 100 million by the year 2025.

a string of

  any series of things in close or uninterrupted succession
EX. Obama’s string of victories in the presidential primaries gave him enough delegate votes to win his party’s nomination.

a peak

  the highest or utmost point of anything; height; maximum
EX. In December, the flu season was at its peak.


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